Flooding could be a major issue for the Lower and possibly Middle Keys, as the Florida Keys are experiencing major king tides currently.
No emergency hurricane evacuation orders had been put in place for the Keys as of Monday. Residents and visitors in campgrounds, recreational vehicles, travel trailers, live-aboard vessels, and mobile homes should prepare to seek shelter with friends or family in a safe structure throughout the storm. Monroe County does not plan to open any general population shelters for this storm, according to Monroe County government officials.
Residents should have their homes, yards, and boats secured as significant weather impacts to the Florida Keys are expected to happen Tuesday, Sept. 27, and Wednesday, county government officials said.
The Lower Keys could start to experience the impacts of Hurricane Ian as early as Tuesday morning, but most likely not until Tuesday afternoon, according to Jon Rizzo, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service. As of Monday, the Lower Keys were under a tropical storm warning, according to the National Hurricane Center. High tides on Tuesday will be 11:45 a.m. and 11:30 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.
Rizzo said Hurricane Ian would pass more than 70 miles west of Loggerhead Key in the Dry Tortugas.
Some low-lying coastal areas of the Lower Keys and possibly the Middle Keys could experience 3 feet of storm surge above the normal high tide because of the storm, and the accompanying 4 to 6 inches of rain and 20-30 mph winds, according to Rizzo.
Potential impacts from flooding included damage homes and businesses not elevated and low-lying streets may be impassable, according to Rizzo. There may be also major beach erosion and damage to seawalls, docks, boardwalks and piers, especially in areas exposed to direct wave action, Rizzo said.
A few tornadoes are possible in association with squalls from late Monday night through Wednesday, Rizzo said.
No emergency hurricane evacuation orders had been put in place for the Keys as of Monday.
Residents and visitors in campgrounds, recreational vehicles, travel trailers, live-aboard vessels, and mobile homes should seek shelter with friends or family in a safe structure throughout the duration of the storm. A general population shelter will open at noon on Tuesday in the Key West High School cafeteria, 2100 Flagler Ave. Registered pets are welcome. There will be limited supplies available. More information on sheltering can be found at www.monroecountyem.com/995.
Keys Energy Services planned to close its offices on Tuesday and has emergency crews on notice, Keys Energy Services CEO Lynne Tejeda said. Keys Energy Services spokesman Julio Torrado called Ian a "dirty storm" with a lot of rain and "potential pockets of power outages," Torrado told the Keys Citizen after the meeting.
The City of Key West plans to close its offices on Tuesday and was closing Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter on Monday, city officials said. Monroe County government has also closed its offices and the courthouses on Tuesday.
All Monroe County School District schools and offices will be closed Tuesday. There have been no decisions on school operations for Wednesday.
There were no plans as of Monday to close Key West International Airport on Tuesday, but individual airlines could choose to cancel flights, Monroe County Airport Director Richard Strickland said early Monday. Later Monday, American, United, Delta and Silver airlines all cancelled their scheduled Tuesday flights, Strickland said.
Monroe County has also closed all of its government offices and the courthouses on Tuesday.
The City of Key West plans to close its offices on Tuesday and was closing Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter on Monday, city officials said. The Martin Luther King Jr. Community pool will be closed Tuesday through Wednesday. Key West Transit will suspend all bus service including the Lower Keys Shuttle, city routes and the Duval Loop starting at 5 a.m. Tuesday until further notice. The Grinnell Street Park and Ride and the lot at the Simonton Street Fire Station No. 2 are closed to the public.
Lower Keys Medical Center has cancelled all elective procedures scheduled for Tuesday, according to Hospital CEO David Clay.
Trash service below the Seven-Mile Bridge could be impacted on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the county. Companies were planning to run all routes, but Waste Management may need to pull drivers if the weather deteriorates and winds exceed 40 mph, according to the county.
As of Monday morning, Hurricane Ian was south of Cuba and moving northwest at 14 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. As of Monday, Ian’s maximum wind speed was 75 mph.
Given the high winds and rough seas expected in the Key West Harbor, Monroe County Commissioner Jim Scholl, requested help from county and city officials to open a special-purpose shelter for live-aboard residents in city mooring fields or on private moorings.
“This is one of my biggest concerns, and we should have addressed this earlier,” Scholl said in the afternoon meeting of local officials discussing emergency management planning. “We have had two recent fatalities in the Key West Harbor with people running back and forth (in inclement weather).”
Scholl said Coast Guard Capt. Jason Ingram shares his concern. Monroe EOC coordinator Shannon Weiner countered.
“We are not opening general shelters at this time, which is in line with our plan for tropical storms,” said Weiner said. “Generally, live-aboards are mindful of this and already have a plan in place.”
Scholl disagreed. Scholl clarified that he was not looking for public shelters, but some specifically for live-aboard residents in either city-managed or private moorings.
Officials agreed to discuss Scholl's request in a phone call after the meeting and agreed to open the high school as a shelter.